The DRUM . . . Sacred Object, Community Gathering, Musical Instrument, Therapeutic Tool, and Used for Healing
by Joanne Crofford
People using drums in intercultural, teaching, recreational, and healing environments were interviewed. Their names are listed below. Quotations are not individually attributed.
RESEARCH . . .
Science is merging with the developmental and healing qualities of the hand drum.
Hand drums, around for thousands of years in celebrations, rituals, and ceremonies, have more recently become the object of research.
Studies demonstrate the calming, focusing, and healing effects on Alzheimer’s patients, autistic children, combat veterans, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations. They are effective in treatment of stress, fatigue, anxiety, addiction, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, heart disease, mental illness, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, emotional disorders, and isolation. —Michael Drake ©2010
Drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system, and produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma, and re-integration of self.
INTERCULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS. . .
The sound of the drum draws us in.
Our mother’s heartbeat, the first sound we all hear, and the drumbeat takes us back inside. Many find the drum on their own personal healing journeys.
“When I was full of trauma, it was a gift—it just came to me.”
In First Nations practices, the drum is a sacred object. It is seen as an instrument of ceremony, honouring, and healing. The round drum represents the universe, the centre of the drum is the pulse . . . from that pulse we have awareness and consciousness. It is our grounding. The pulse has always been within us and within the rhythms of life.
“In Africa, our lives are rhythm and the drum is our heartbeat.”
The drums call people together and the community does the healing. There are so many benefits. We gather when something happens, and it allows us to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually.”
“We get energized by playing, get rid of mental baggage.”
“When people play the drum they say, ‘I can do it.’ . . . You can see the difference in people when they come and when they leave.”
“It is fun and it is also serious. Enjoy it, it is a legacy, and pass it on.”
MUSIC PROGRAMS . . .
The drum, simplicity and accessibility.
School and community programs continue the culture of the drum. It’s an active form of learning combined with interpersonal development, being part of a group, creating together, and making friends.
“It allows for self-expression, confidence, teamwork, and ownership of the music. It is not about ‘knowing everything,’ it is the empowerment of the activity.”
“The drum reminds us that we can all find the rhythm. We can play music and not just consume it.”
From an older student, former guitar man, with dementia . . . “The music of the drum is clear to me. It’s a chance to play with others, drums make things easier for me, I can come in or out as speech and memory works. Other people in the circle help me.”
In all cultures, building community is at the heart of the group drum experience.
HEALING WITH SOUND . . .
The drum helps ground us.
There is something very ancient and primal in all of us. Everyone feels the drum and its vibrations. Sound moves energy.
How you feel impacts your spirit. For healing we need to be open in mind, body, and spirit. Healing is not only physical, it is also about making peace with our circumstance and providing the environment to heal, allowing for people to own their experience.
Vibratory messages sent to our brain, with intention and guidance, help the body return to a state of well-being. Stored self-harming emotions can be safely released and brought into balance.
Participants say, “If my mind wanders, I lose the beat.”
Drumming helps us stay in the moment, being mindful of what we are doing, right now. This enables us to have a break from our worries, our self-judgment, our pain. Relax and enjoy the group.
Having fun releases stress. Yes, time spent drumming with others can transport us to a place of no thoughts or worries. Drumming is a conversation. To connect, we must listen carefully to each other and experience unity. A good session ends in laughter and hugs.
Joe Naytowhow, Elder, Singer, and Drummer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Robson, Sound Healing, Reiki/Coaching/Shamanic Healing, on Facebook Sundance Robson
Joseph Ashong, Ghanaian Master Drummer, email@example.com
Christopher Ssemmambo and Allen Ssemmanda, Karibu; Ugandan Drum, Dance, and Dialogue. ucascanada.ca; firstname.lastname@example.org, Attn: Allen
Christina Kante, Sound Circles, Phipps@yahoo.com
Marlene Hinz, Arts Education Specialist, email@example.com
Maxine MacPherson, Energy Healing, End of Life Care/Death Doula, firstname.lastname@example.org
Charyel Logan, Reiki, Energy work, Dowsing, email@example.com
Kelly Green, SoulBeats Healing Drum Oasis and Make It Your Own, Ceremony & Ritual, www.everydaysacred.ca
Cathy Chicoine, zenrhythmco.ca
Kellie Welk, Earth Beat Drums, earthbeatdrums.com
Yahoo Drum Facilitators Network, DrumCircles@yahoogroups.ca
Joanne Crofford of Boomtown Drums, Regina, SK, offers drums for schools, healing, and fun, as well as the following: Youth Drum Club; Spirit of the Drum—African ensemble; Introductory djembe class; Drumming for Growth—youth in supported housing; Workshops for teachers, facilitators, community drummers, drum circles, cultural days, and fun days in schools. She can advise on best and most affordable package of drums for your program. She encourages people to explore the deep benefits of drumming and the opportunities for rhythmic development, personal growth, and healing in a community of drummers. Have Drums, Will Travel. www.boomtowndrums.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.